The Corporate Solidarity
of the Human Race
and Christ as the Second Adam

Prepared for the meeting of the Primacy of the Gospel Committee,
assembled at the General Conference, October 16, 1996

by Gerald L. Finneman

Christ, in laying aside His attributes as God in order to become human, became the representative Man of the fallen race. This was because the first man, Adam, abandoned headship of the human race. He surrendered his legal and moral interests in this matter to the enemy of God and man.

The term Adam is used four ways in Scripture. First of all, it is the original man’s name. Second, both the first man and his wife, Eve, are called Adam. Third, mankind is identified as Adam. And fourth, Christ is designated as the "last Adam" (Genesis 2:18,19; 1:26, 27; 5:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 15:45). Well over five hundred times the term adam is used to designate more than an individual. In most instances it refers to the entire race, hence, it is a corporate solidarity term. It denotes the condition of oneness resulting from an identity of nature among the members of the human race.

The first Adam not only ruptured his communion with God and brought the curse of the law upon himself, but also upon all of his descendants. The race was given over to the headship of Satan. So Christ had to come as the new Adam to contest the devil’s usurpation as the head of the race. Only "in" Christ, and by Him, could the original promises to mankind be realized. In considering our topic of the "in Christ" motif we must contemplate the corporate solidarity of the human race as represented in the first and last Adams. This representation started in Heaven’s discussions; later it was carried out "in Christ" on earth.

Following is an outline of Scripture texts and comments that deal with the "in Christ" concept. In the endnotes more information is presented on various points made in the outline.

  1. 2 Timothy 1:9—The "in Christ" motif began in heaven, not on earth.

    1. Grace was given to us "in Christ Jesus" before time began.

      1. This had to have been in a representative sense, as we were not personally present. In eternity, Christ became the astipulator, the second party, of the Covenant of Grace.

        1. Should Adam fall, Christ guaranteed man’s redemption and restoration to God’s favor. Christ’s response in that covenant, of obedience (righteousness) by faith in behalf of mankind, was the archetype of His appropriate response within His history as the second Adam.1

    2. As recorded in Isaiah, God promised to "keep" or "preserve" Christ when He would give Him "as a covenant to (‘of’ KJV; ‘for’ NIV) the people" in the Incarnation. In that covenant promise Christ was given as the "light to the Gentiles, that He should be [God’s] salvation to the ends of the earth"—Isaiah 49:8, 6; see also 42:5, 6.

      1. The Father sent Him as "Savior of the world"—1 John 4:14.

      2. Accordingly Christ came "to save the world’—John 4:47.

      3. The Samaritans recognized Christ as "Savior of the world’—John 4:42.

    3. Thus it was that before Adam sinned, grace, "in Christ," awaited to take man by the hand as soon as he fell.

  2. Romans 5:14—Adam, as a type of Christ.2

    1. Both Adams were representatives of the fallen race. Both were held responsible for their conduct. Their conduct involved more than themselves.

    2. Mankind was represented in Adam. In his disobedience he enslaved himself and his posterity to sin and death. Because of that, nothing but condemnation for the human race remained.3

    3. God became not only the stipulator but, in Christ, also the astipulator. Both initiator and respondent meet "in Christ." God became man, not just a man, but mankind. He took the role of man. In carrying out the role assigned in the Everlasting Covenant in the context of fallen humanity, Christ redeemed man.4

    4. Matthew 3:13-4:4—Christ began His public ministry as the second Adam.

      1. He was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness." This was not for Himself, but for the fallen race. This obedience was a legal righteousness. He represented us. This fulfillment of righteousness was legally imputed to the fallen race.

      2. The Son of Man’s prayer on the river bank after His baptism included the human race. God answered that prayer: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." That word to our Representative is assurance that God "made us accepted in the Beloved" (Matthew 3:17; Ephesians 1:6).5 In Christ He communicated with mankind.6

      3. When Christ entered the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil, He went as the second Adam. In this series of temptations, as the Representative Man, Christ began where the first Adam began—on the point of appetite.

        1. Christ was tempted to use divine power to create needed food. He answered as the Second Adam. He quoted from Deuteronomy, declaring His legal headship over the human race. This was over against the Devil’s usurpation of headship. Forcibly the Son of Man, the Second Adam declared, "man (lit. Adam) shall not live by bread alone; but man (Adam) lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 8:3).

          1. In these words Christ clarified the central issue in the controversy between man and Satan: Who is the head of the race and how shall he represent the race, in unrighteousness, as the devil did or through righteousness by faith? The Second Adam, the Representative Man, would live righteously by faith alone for faith came to Him through the word of God. Christ’s life of righteousness, by faith alone, was on behalf of the fallen race.

  3. The global dimensions are brought out again in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.

    1. A raised Christ was fundamental to the gospel according to Paul (: l-3).

    2. Paul delineates events based upon the fact of Christ’s resurrection from the dead (:20-28).

      1. The resurrection of believers

      2. The resurrection of nonbelievers

      3. The destruction of death

    3. The order of resurrection is stated—"each in his own turn."7 In verses 20-24 we have a description of the order of the resurrections according to their places of importance. After stating that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" Paul delineates the order:

      1. "Christ the first-fruits."

      2. "Afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming."

      3. "Then the end," i.e. the final ranks of raised people.8

    4. About two thousand years elapse between Christ’s resurrection and that of His followers. There will be another thousand years between then and the last resurrection.

    5. The "last Adam" theme is worked out more fully in Romans 5, but here the development is from the concept of "first-fruits" in connection with the two representatives of the fallen race. As the first-fruits Christ was "us." Because of this the human race is to be resurrected, each in his group and rank.

    6. 1 Corinthians 15:27 is a reference from Psalm 8:6 referring to Adam’s headship. But here Paul interprets Psalm 8 to mean that Christ is the recipient to whom the promise of universal rule was made: "He has put all things under His feet."9 Hebrews 2:6-9 also quoting Psalm 8 reveals that Adam’s headship was lost, but that Jesus redeemed his failure and became the second and final head of the race.

  4. Hebrews 2:9—"Jesus ... was made for the suffering of death ... that He, by the grace of God might taste death for everyone."

    1. His death was universal in scope; unilateral both in legal and moral obligations on behalf of the fallen race from the prescribed standpoint of the Everlasting Covenant; and unconditional as to any provision making the effect of this legal act contingent on the occurrence of an uncertain future event.10  His death covered all manner of men, without distinction and without exception.

  5. 2 Corinthians 5: 14-21—presents the motive, the ministry, and the message of the cross of Christ.

    1. the motive: the impelling love of Christ, verse 14.

    2. the ministry: of reconciliation, verses 18, 19.

    3. the message: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them . . . [therefore] be reconciled to God," verses 19,20.

    4. Perceiving some of the breadth and depth of the manner of Christ’s love for us as manifested in His death leads us from premise to conclusion as it did Paul: "If One died for all, then all died," verse 14.

      1. Every man died in Christ. Not that man was paying the price for his sin. Man is not a co-redeemer with Christ. There is only one sufficient offering. That One is Christ. Furthermore, this is not a metaphysical ontological nature of mankind being in Christ.11

      2. When Jesus died He did so as mankind’s representative and head, not as an individual. He was a corporate person, the Public Man. He took the full burden of the sin of the fallen race upon Himself, so that when He died all died. In this sense, as our representative, we were included "in Him."

  6. Hebrews 7:22—Christ, the Surety of the Everlasting Covenant

    1. A surety is a bondsman who becomes responsible for another person's failure. If a man charged with a crime is incarcerated, another may put up a bond consisting of money, property, or his life, as the case may be. This is for the purpose of getting the one charged with the violation out of custody to await his trial. If the one charged with the crime fails to show up for his trial, the bondsman becomes liable for that failure and pays the stipulated penalty.

      1. Psalm 69:4 prophesied of Jesus as our Surety: "Though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it." Christ was innocent, yet made Himself responsible for our failure. Consequently, God "has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). Our trespasses were not imputed to us, but they were to Christ. "He ... who knew no sin" was "made to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

      2. Daniel 9:26—Messiah was "cut off, but not for Himself." Man, in Adam, failed, but Christ as our Surety represented us. He was "cut off" for us.

Circumcision "in Him" fulfilled at the cross

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